Pattaya’s top business representative suggested the government should vaccinate all of Thailand’s tourism-industry workers against the coronavirus before reopening the country to foreign tourists.
In a statement that seems to contradict earlier calls for ending mandatory quarantine and facilitating the return of foreign visitors, Ekasit Ngampichet, president of the Pattaya Business & Tourism Association, said March 9 at the MICE Connect platform launch at the Amari Pattaya hotel that 70 percent of the industry should be vaccinated to ensure the country can reopen safely.
He added that having the majority of Thais that tourists would encounter be vaccinated would build confidence among foreigners and hasten the industry’s recovery.
Thailand, however, is woefully behind its peers in vaccinating its population. To date, Thailand has administered a poor-performing Chinese vaccine to tens of thousands of medical workers while other countries are administering a million doses or more of top-shelf western vaccines.
Thailand planned to import about 150,000 doses of AstraZeneca Plc. vaccine from Europe and then become the British-Swedish company’s Southeast Asian manufacturing hub. However, the Food and Drug Administration has continued to stall rollout of the vaccine and, on March 9, canceled the inoculation of Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and his cabinet based on sketchy medical reports about blood-clot side effects.
Only two cases of clotting out of millions of doses administered were reported in Italy from one batch of vaccine while two other countries reported only scattered side effects. The European Medicine Agency said instances of clotting episodes from the AstraZeneca vaccine weren’t found any more often than in the normal general population.
Thailand has, to date, preordered only enough vaccine to inoculate half its population, most of that being the AstraZeneca drug the government has dragged its feet on.